After World Cup failure, what's next for Ireland?

It is more than a year until the Boys in Green’s next qualifier for a major tournament.

Ireland's Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady dejected after conceding a third goal.
Ireland's Jeff Hendrick and Robbie Brady dejected after conceding a third goal.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

ONE OF THE many sobering thoughts for Ireland fans processing the disappointment of last night’s disastrous result against Denmark is that fans will have to wait 16 months for Ireland’s next qualifier for a major tournament.

Qualifying for Euro 2020 does not begin until the week of 21-23 March 2019, with the draw for the competition set to be held on 2 December 2018 at the Convention Centre Dublin.

Before then, there will be a couple of friendlies taking place in March as usual.

There are also likely to be some end-of-season games. As is often the case, teams who get drawn in England’s World Cup group will probably be keen to take on Ireland — opponents they may perceive to have a similar style.

There has also been talk of involvement in a US-based tournament reserved for some of the teams who failed to reach the World Cup, though that idea is very much in its early stages according to reports, and may come to nothing.

Ireland will also take part in the Uefa Nations League, which is set to replace most friendlies from September 2018 onwards.

The competition will also be linked to Euro 2020 qualifying, giving teams another chance to reach the tournament.

Ireland have been placed in League B of the Nations League alongside Northern Ireland and Wales. For further details on that competition, click here.

Despite the offer of a new contract apparently being on the table, after last night’s setback, O’Neill strongly hinted that he would consider his future in the job.

In contrast with the quick turnaround between Euro 2016 and the World Cup qualifiers, considering that it is so long until Ireland’s next competitive game, the Derry native will certainly have plenty of time to take stock.

Whether it is O’Neill or somebody else in charge, the manager should also have ample opportunity to experiment with young players and try different formations in the coming months, as the re-building process begins following last night’s demoralising loss.

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Paul Fennessy

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